As many of you know, the USU Extension office receives all sorts of calls about gardening this time of year and we do our very best to answer them or direct callers to reliable sources for answers. While most of the questions we get deal with pest and disease issues in the garden, we sometimes find ourselves faced with unique questions that are best tackled by experts.

This last week has been filled with the latter type of questions. We have been flooded with calls concerning the toxic algae bloom that is affecting Utah Lake and the potential risk if used to water gardens.

Water quality issues such as this are best left to the experts, so in order to direct you to the right information we did some research and reached out to our Water Quality Extension Specialists on campus. Here is what we found.

 (Photo: Utah Department of Environmental Quality)

(Photo: Utah Department of Environmental Quality)

Who to contact

For the most current information on this topic please visit the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s website. The Division of Water Quality (DWQ) is currently sampling Utah Lake, the Jordan River and major irrigation canals and their webpage is being updated with results along with statements of potential health impacts. You can contact them with any non-agriculture related questions at (801) 536-4484.

If you have agriculture related questions or specific questions about the safety of produce visit the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food website or contact them at (801) 541-2152.

For concerns about possible human exposure, call Utah Poison Control at (800) 222-1222, or your physician.

USU Extension’s Statement

This statement was posted yesterday on the USU Extension Water Quality website

“To all people who use water from Utah Lake and Jordan River:  Be aware of the harmful algal bloom in Utah Lake.  This water may contain harmful concentrations of toxins produced by these algae.  The Utah Division of Water Quality is actively monitoring the water, but getting final concentrations of the toxins will take a few more days.

Water with toxins above water quality drinking water standards can be dangerous to the health of your family and your animals from consumption, direct contact, or use for irrigation.  Avoid all contact with water from Utah Lake, the Jordan River and diversion canals from the river until more is known about the toxin concentrations.  We should have this information by July 22 or July 23.”

So there you have it….. proceed with caution, stay informed and follow ALL recommendations given  by the experts and organizations above!


Lastly, for those with a general interest in learning about cyanobacteria “blooms” and their potential to be toxic, we have included some additional links to blogs and news reports.

DEQ Utah Blog “Harmful Algal Blooms: When It Isn’t Good to Be Green”

Oregon State University “Potential Impact of Cyanobacteria on Crop Plants”

The Salt Lake Tribune “Additional waters closed as ‘unprecedented’ Utah Lake algal bloom moves north”